Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel I do love a book populated with characters who just crawl right into your heart and stay there. That's exactly what happened with The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. At first you might wonder about it of course. Samuel and Willadee Lake did, after all, name their three children Noble, Swan, and Bienville. As southerners say, "Well, I swan!"

Swan Lake is the main character in the story. Her father is a preacher who has lost his church because he refuses to stop his intolerable activities such as driving out to pick up poor (and poorly dressed) people to bring them to church services. My goodness, there are proprieties to keep. Anyway, Willadee and the kids are at her Moses family reunion and Samuel arrives after a family tragedy. He's a lost soul and doesn't know what will happen to his family.

We also get to know Willadee's brother Toy, a veteran who lost a leg saving a black soldier, and her mother Calla. Both of these characters have hearts as big as their farm. There is also a purely evil character who beats his wife and son and animals. Meanwhile, Swan, Noble and Bienville have great adventures on the farm using their wonderful imaginations, until they encounter actual danger.

I laughed so much reading this great story, and then I cried and then I laughed again. We watch Samuel struggle to find his place in the world and the kids as they struggle to understand evil. Meanwhile, Willadee and Calla sacrifice to make the farm a place of safety and love. I can't really tell you anymore without ruining the story for you and I would hate to do that because this is the best book I've read for a long, long time. Please do read it. I know you'll love it.


  1. Wow, that's high praise! I do wonder about people who give their kids names like that. When I was growing up, there was a family named Cloud near us - one of their daughters was Sunshine and another one was Rain.

  2. Well, you can see the writer has a sense of humour. Swan Lake indeed.

    But what does ´I swan´ mean?

  3. I did not realize this has been released. I thought it sounded pretty darn great.

    Nice review Barbara.

  4. Kathy, I do wonder what gets into some people when they name their children. Pets too for that matter. Our neighbor has a black cat that the kids named Coconut. Beats me why!

    Dorte, This is a very funny book and Swan Lake is a funny girl. When I was growing up in the Midwest, small town people would respond to something amazing by saying, "Well I swan!" Don't know where it comes from really.

    Diane, I didn't realize until I finished reading this book that it has a July 12, 2011 pub date. Hope everyone will still remember it next month. Thanks for the compliment.